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  Sunday, 7 July, 2002, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Wimbledon uncovered
Wimbledon nudist colony's annual sports day

They might be lightning fast at covering the All England club's playing surfaces when it rains, but Wimbledon's streaker-response time is far less impressive.

All fortnight we have admired the sleekness of Wimbledon's well-oiled rain drill - a few spots of the wet stuff, the umpire suspends play, the net comes down and 20 green-clad man sprint across the court dragging a tarpaulin behind them.

Total cover in about five seconds.

'New balls, please'

This efficiency, sadly (or happily, depending on your view of these things), does not extend to covering naked intruders.

With men's finalists Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian just back on court after a rain delay, one bored fan (or perhaps he just misinterpreted the umpire's call for 'new balls') decided to play his very own Centre Court exhibition match.

Wearing only a broad smile, the twinkle-toed naturist made light of the cool temperature (well, that's his excuse) and cavorted around the court for nearly a minute.


Poor old Alan, he just didn't know how to tackle him
BBC's John Barrett sympathises with referee Alan Mills
He even hurdled the net twice - demonstrating ably why we should never allow Olympic athletes to perform naked again, as they did in classical times.

As divertingly different as this all was, the biggest eye-opener was the sight of Wimbledon's security staff attempting to cover the frolicking nude with large red capes - it simply cried out for shouts of 'Ole!' from the crowd.

And it is not as if they haven't had to deal with this kind of brazen cheekiness before.

As BBC commentator John Barrett pointed out, a streaker also interrupted the 1996 men's final between Malivai Washington and Richard Krajicek.

But then as commentary box buddy John Lloyd explained, "That was a better sight, that was a female."

Well, quite, but Hewitt's consort Kim Clijsters wasn't complaining - SW19 has rarely seen the Belgian so animated.

Missed tackle

So was it just another example of the eccentricity the world expects from Wimbledon week (like playing tennis outdoors in an English summer)?

Absolutely, but there was one man who didn't look pleased by Wimbledon's experiment with avant-garde contemporary dance...referee Alan Mills.

The grumpy kill-joy had a face worse than thunder while watching his bumbling staff reprise a Keystone Cops routine.

As the Beeb's Barrett said: "Poor old Alan, he just didn't know how to tackle him."

Rather you than me, Alan.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Psychologist Dr Glen Wilson
"Streakers have often been drinking"
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